Name: Jane Metko, MT (ASCP), MS-OLQ
Title: Director of Ancillary Services
Employer: Primary Care Associates of Appleton, LTD., Appleton, WI
I head up laboratory and radiology services for an independent, 21-doctor family and internal medicine practice. Our lab is staffed by five laboratory technicians and four phlebotomists. We offer an extensive in-house test menu, including testing in chemistry, immunoassay, coagulation, hematology, and urinalysis.
We see a lot of patients on a monthly basis who are taking the anticoagulant drug warfarin and need to have their PT/INR (Prothrombin Time and International Normalized Ratio) levels tested regularly to ensure that their blood is clotting appropriately.
On one Friday afternoon, Barbara Vanderaa, one of our laboratory technicians, was placing a PT/INR sample on our coag analyzer. We visually inspect each sample prior to testing, and Barbara noticed that this sample had a significantly low ratio of blood cells to plasma. Barbara immediately contacted the patient’s physician to recommend the patient return for a complete blood count. The patient returned and the subsequent test showed that the patient’s hemoglobin was critically low at 4.8 g/dL. The provider immediately admitted the patient to a local hospital where he was treated for a GI bleed and given a transfusion.
I was very proud of Barbara. Her initiative, attention to detail and commitment to providing quality care had a significant impact on this patient’s health and overall medical outcome.
We always strive to work as a team with our practitioners to give them the information they need to make the right diagnosis. Patients may not know what we do behind the scenes, but an example like this illustrates the critical role the lab plays in effective healthcare.